A bleak morning in Rome. It is the 14 th of May and it seems to be an
ordinary day. Yet… We wake up early and jointly with the Italian delegation,
run by Benito Ripoli, we set off toward the subway that is to take us to Saint
Peter’s Square. Few people in the street. A few drops of rain are fooling
around. We get to the subway station and head toward our destination. The
time is 6:30 a.m. and the subway is not crowded at all. We only count around
10-15 people. We get to the Octavian station and set off on foot toward our
location – the Vatican. Even though very early, we spot plenty of groups
sharing the same way with us. At the San Angelo gate we even notice a
considerable queue of tourist groups from South America and Asia. We wait
for a few minutes until Benito Ripoli sets up the connection with the
organisers. Then we enter the gate of the special delegations and the amazing
Saint Peter’s Square opens up in front of us. Everything is prepared for a feast.
The chairs and the traffic limitations are very well indicated and the special
security services are doing their job outstandingly. We are taken over by one of
the organisers, who is leading us pass the filter where we admire the Swiss
Guard’s representatives. ‘Acriter et fideliter’, meaning ‘brave and faithful’, is
the motto of these young men aged between 19 and 30 and who have the
Swiss citizenship, the Catholic religion, the military service undergone within
the Swiss army and completed against a ‘proper conduct and behaviour
certificate’ and the mandatory height of more than 174 centimetres.
Everywhere you look is order and discipline. A real team wearing a
tuxedo and a butterfly tie comes out from amongst the event organisers. We
are elegantly having our papers checked, then we are invited, with Benito
Ripoli, to the lodge where Pope Francis is to come up. My colleagues, Doris,
Ady and Pahone, are guided toward the places indicated for journalists. I regret
this separation, because I no longer had the photo and video cameras around.
We are assured that a special company will immortalize all the moments of the
event. Nonetheless, I did not count on that and I took advantage of the cell
phone, which would be of great help to us. In the meantime, we met our
colleagues from France, Israel, Argentina, who sat down, in their turn, on the
places reserved to the groups. The square is getting filled with people. Real
torrents of crowd from various corners of the world were flowing there. From
the lodge where we were we had the fantastic image of Saint Peter’s Square.
At a certain moment, the folk row comprising approximately ten thousand
dancers, orchestras and soloists in folk suits showed up in the middle of the
crowd and joined the representatives of the countries arrived for this event.
The Cardinals of the Vatican began coming to the official tribune,
whereas the special Guard was getting ready for the arrival of His Holiness. The
rain kept on fooling around. It began to rain finely, yet no one moved from the
waiting position. The local and national authorities showed up beside us, in the
special lodge. Everybody was heroically bearing the rain that would not cease.
At a certain moment we heard the applauses and the cries of joy burst.
Standing up in the Popemobile, His Holiness came up, greeting the crowd with
great pleasure. He made a few rounds in Saint Peter’s Square in this way, in
everybody’s cheers and to everyone’s satisfaction. After getting down the
Popemobile, he headed toward the tribune specially prepared for the event.
He most warmly greeted the delegations present there, while listing them.
Then there was a service carried out by the Pope Cardinals in several
languages. The rain would not stop. It was raining in big drops and everybody
present was receiving them as a heavenly bless, as a wash from the evil and as
a real purification. Pope Francis blessed everyone present and congratulated
them for the heroism of withstanding the rain. We were soaked to the bone, as
it had never happened to me, yet it was wonderful. We felt as if we were in
another world, full of power and energy. The joy became magnificent when
Pope Francis headed toward our delegation. I most respectfully explained to
him that we were representing the I.G.F. World Folklore Union and I handed
the I.G.F. gold medal to him. He curiously asked me what it represented and I
explained that it was a sign of our appreciation for His Holiness. Then I told him
that I was a Romanian from Bistrița, Transylvania, and I asked him to receive
the plaquette of the Bistrița Palace of Culture. He looked at it very closely,
caressed it and blessed the institution, the town and the inhabitants. There
were truly soul-uplifting moments, which made me think of the beginnings of
our town. Back then (around 1200-1300), a document coming from the Pope
was mentioning Bistrița. And now, in 2016, His Holiness blesses the Palace and
our town. My Italian colleagues also offered him a splendid model from the
fatherland of Padre Pio – San Giovanni Rotondo. His holiness thanked us and
blessed the entire cultural-folk movement, notably Bistrița and San Giovanni
Rotondo, through my agency and Benito Ripoli’s. There were moments that
one can never forget ! Even though I am an Orthodox Christian, I felt wonderful
and I think we have to regard all Christians with respect and appreciation and
to have the ultimate certainty that there is only one God.